PORT ELIZABETH was the venue for our last FleetWatch Brake & Tyre Watch training session and while the genuine enthusiasm of traffic officials from PE to fully embrace the training provided by our expert partners was inspiring, what was, once again, disappointing was the condition of the trucks. Out of the five trucks randomly taken off the road for testing, all five failed.
What is it about some transport operators that they think they have a right to run totally unroadworthy trucks on public roads? There are times when one wants to throw up one’s hands and say “Ag, just get out there and kill yourselves!” But you can’t for the simple reason that they will kill other innocents as well.
I mean, when you see both brake drums on a single axle that are rusted inside from not having made any contact with the brake linings, you genuinely feel like taking a match to that truck and burning the blinking thing. But no, instead, it gets served with a Discontinuation of Service notice for having zero braking and is taken off the road until it is fixed and re-tested for roadworthiness. The operator gets another chance. However, when that truck crashes into a car due to it having faulty – or no brakes – the family inside that car may not get a second chance.
And then the next one comes in and you spot it right away. Anyone can see it – a slack adjuster lying against the axle that is totally disconnected from the brake booster pushrod. Another one with zero brakes. And so it goes on. Bald tyres, sidewall cuts in the tyres, nonfunctioning ABS systems, manual slack adjusters fitted when they should be automatic.
What often gets us is that these are not items requiring an engineering degree to get right. Most of the faults we find can be avoided by applying basic maintenance procedures that every transport operator should adhere to. Section 49 of the Road Traffic Act spells out the Duties of an Operator, one of which is to keep his vehicles in a roadworthy condition. Here it is: (d) ensure that such motor vehicle complies with the fitness requirements contemplated in Chapter V; (e) conduct his or her operations with due care to the safety of the public.
Yet how many transport operators have even read Section 49 of the Act, let along complying with it. It is the sincere wish of FleetWatch – and I know of all our Brake & Tyre Watch partners –that the cops who have been trained on these various events will apply their knowledge fully and – by working with the test centres – will go all out to take the hundreds of unroadworthy trucks off our roads. Let’s do it!
Download the full report of the Brake & Tyre Watch Musina below.
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Thank you to our valued partners